Sorry, Tennessee, the Federal Government Trumps

Not too long ago, the Tennessee legislature passed a law (HB 1796) which would have removed the federal government (specifically the ATF) from interference with certain types of firearms transactions in Tennessee. Some of us (myself included) have seen this as a proper and long-overdue attempt to resurrect the largely ignored 10th Amendment to the US Constitution.

Others, including the aforementioned ATF are not in agreement. The following is my transcript of a letter which was sent to Tenessee FFL holders. Here is the PDF from which the transcript was made.

U.S. Department of Justice

Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco,
Firearms and Explosives

Assistant Director

Washington, DC 20226

JUL 16 2009


The purpose of this letter is to provide guidance on your obligations as a Federal firearms licensee (“FFL”). The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (“ATF”) is dedicated to your success in meeting your requirements as a Federal firearms licensee. The following guidance is intended to assist you in accomplishing this goal.

The passage of the Tennessee Firearms Freedom Act, H.B. 1796, 106th Leg. (Tenn. 2009) 1796 (“Act”), effective June 19, 2009, has generated questions from industry members as to how this State law may affect them while engaged in a firearms business activity. The Act purports to exempt personal firearms, firearms accessories, and ammunition manufactured in the State, and which remain in the State, from most Federal firearms laws and regulations. However, because the Act conflicts with Federal firearms laws and regulations, Federal law supersedes the Act, and all provisions of the Gun Control Act and the National Firearms Act, and their corresponding regulations, continue to apply.

As you may know, Federal law requires a license to engage in the business of manufacturing firearms or ammunition, or to deal in firearms, even if the firearms or ammunition remain within the same state. All firearms manufactured by a licensee must be properly marked. Additionally, each licensee must record the type, model, caliber or gauge, and serial number of each firearm manufactured or otherwise acquired, and the date such manufacture or other acquisition was made. The information required must be recorded in the licensee’s records not later than the seventh day following the date such manufacture or other acquisition was made. Firearms transaction records and NICS background checks must be conducted prior to disposition of firearms to unlicensed persons. These, as well as other Federal requirements and prohibitions, apply whether or not the firearms or ammunition have crossed state lines.

If you have any questions regarding Federal firearms laws and regulations, please contact your local ATF office. ATF works closely with the firearms industry and appreciates the important role the industry plays in combating violent crime. A listing of ATF office phone numbers can be found at


Carson W. Carroll
Assistant Director
(Enforcement Programs and Services)

So folks, there you have it. “[B]ecause the Act conflicts with Federal firearms laws and regulations, Federal law supersedes the Act.” One would almost think that the Federal government simply does not care what the several states might choose to do.

It is past time to remind the Federal government that it is just that, a “federal” rather than a “national” government. I wonder if they even know the difference any more?